New Zealand’s Parliament speaker cradled and bottle-fed another lawmaker’s infant son as he presided over a debate this week — warming hearts in the room and on social media when the snap went viral.
Trevor Mallard held tot Tūtānekai Smith-Coffey, the son of the Labor Parliament member Tāmati Coffey, rocking him in his arms during Wednesday’s general debate.
“Normally the Speaker’s chair is only used by Presiding Officers but today a VIP took the chair with me,” Mallard tweeted. “Congratulations @tamaticoffey and Tim on the newest member of your family.”
The image was retweeted about 1,600 times and liked about 7,600 times by Thursday morning.
Coffey announced the birth of Tūtānekai last month. His husband Tim Smith was the biological father of the baby, and the surrogate mother was a “friend of a friend,” Coffey told Newshub at the time.
Smith told Newshub Wednesday his partner has been back at Parliament all week — with his son in tow to help him transition back to work after being on paternity leave.
Other Parliament members were delighted to have the tiny guest joining them on the floor.
“Lovely to have a baby in the House, and what a beautiful one,” Gareth Hughes tweeted.
“Who needs to see this today?” Goriz Ghahraman chimed in. “Every single last one of us, that’s who.”
Coffey told Newshub that he’s “felt really supported by my colleagues from across the House.”
“Babies have a way of calming down the intense environment of Parliament and I think we need more of them around to remind us of the real reason we are all here,” he said.
Mallard is no stranger to holding little ones — he has also cradled Hiwa-i-te-rangi, the baby of another Labor Parliament member Kiri Allan and her partner, in Parliament, according to Newshub.
“We have even joked about kicking off a Labor Māori Baby Caucus,” Coffey told the outlet. “It is well known that the Speaker loves babies and has created a Parliament that is receptive to babies and is whānau [Māori-language word for extended family] friendly so I knew that he would be keen.”
Since Mallard took office as speaker in 2017, he promised to make Parliament a more family-friendly place, according to the report.
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